Fed Minutes: Further Rate Hikes Warranted as Inflation Likely to Hit Target

Fed Minutes: Further Rate Hikes Warranted as Inflation Likely to Hit Target

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Investing.com – Federal Reserve policymakers agreed that further U.S. rate hikes would likely be warranted amid optimism on U.S. economic growth and confidence that inflation would meet the central bank’s target, according to the minutes of the Fed’s March meeting.

“Members expected that economic conditions would evolve in a manner that would warrant further gradual increases in the federal funds rate,” the Fed said in the minutes. “Most participants commented that the stronger economic outlook and the somewhat higher inflation readings in recent months had increased the likelihood of progress toward the Committee’s 2 percent inflation objective.”

The upbeat outlook on inflation comes on the heels of the Labor Department’s CPI report released Wednesday, showing U.S. monthly inflation unexpectedly , in what was the first and largest drop in ten months.

Annual inflation rose by 2.4%, the largest increase in a year, while underlying inflation rose 2.1% year-on-year, the biggest increase since February 2017.

Fed officials, however, claimed the first-quarter slowdown in the rate of growth of household spending and business fixed investment was “transitory” after strong fourth-quarter readings.

“They [Fed officials] expected that the first-quarter softness would be transitory, pointing to a variety of factors, including delayed payment of some personal tax refunds, residual seasonality in the data, and more generally to strong economic fundamentals,” according to the minutes.

The Fed raised interest rates for the first time this year after its meeting last month, in what was a widely anticipated decision and stuck to its projections for two additional rate hikes this year.

Fed Chief Jerome Powell said last week the Fed will likely need to keep raising interest rates this year to keep inflation under control.

Traders are currently pricing in around a 90% chance of a rate hike in June, according to . Odds of a third rate hike by December are seen at about 75%.

The somewhat hawkish Fed minutes helped the pare losses, pressuring to retreat further from a more than two-week high.

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